CONGRATULATIONS to all of you! You have survived the toughest part of the application process. However after you submitted your last application you might be thinking, “What’s next? Should I visit the campuses I’m interested in?”
In an ideal world, the best thing would have been to visit campuses before applying. However, we are past that point and have already submitted applications…I would then suggest for you to wait until you receive your offers.
One reason is that some programs will actually pay your flight. However, do not depend on this. From now until March, begin saving money so you can at least visit one campus.
Once you are accepted, you can also ask your program whether they are willing to help pay some of the costs associated with your visit. For instance, although I paid my flight, my department offered to pay for the hotel.
If you are within driving distance, be sure to visit the campuses. Take advantage of the fact that you live relatively close to these universities. It’s amazing how much you will learn once you set foot onto these different campuses.
So why should you visit campuses once you’re accepted?
1) You will be able to interact with professors and graduate students. This will give you an idea of the type of relationships you will form.
2) If you are dissatisfied with your financial aid offer, you can always bargain with the department during your visit. For instance, say that the program is covering your tuition, but not your fees. You can let them know that in order to consider them, they also need to cover your fees.
3) You will have the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the town/city vibe. Are you okay living in a large city or small college town for 2-8 years?
4) If you have a family, you will be able to scope out some of the resource available. How affordable is childcare? Will your significant other find a job at this location?